Surprise! I call it “birthday cake,” but it’s just a cheap candle shoved in a Twinkie. Like this combo, a recent article published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine has all the trappings of science, without all the burden of the effort needed to actually achieve good science. Photo from .
Good timing! The company – Boiron – that produces that same homeopathic sleeping pill that we overdosed on in Friday’s lecture also recently published a TERRIBLE study of their migraine “remedy.” It’s a great example of how bad science can seem legitimate by making its way into a journal.
The abstract for the study is available online . The study is presumably available if your institution has a subscription to this journal.
The abstract alone is sufficient to understand just how bad a piece of research this is Quoting from the authors, “This was an observational, prospective, open, nonrandomized, noncomparative, multicenter study.”
- Translation: we employed no controls (the homeopathic preparation was compared against neither an intentional placebo, nor again an existing effective migraine medication already known to work. Also, there was no randomization of who got the homeopathic preparation, who got the placebo, and who got actual migraine medication. We designed the study to intentionally leave the door wide open for bias.
In addition, the authors state, “Physicians were given complete freedom in terms of treatment prescription; thus, prescriptions were individualized for each patient.”
- Translation: no attempt at blinding, the gold-standard of all scientific research, was made, allowing for physicians to know what they are giving patients and thus influence outcomes.
This is a great example of (1) bad science being (2) published in a journal (albeit a very poor one) which will (3) then lead adherents of homeopathy to point and say, “See?! It’s published, just like real science!”
This publication is to real science what shoving a lit match into a twinkie and handing it to your friend is to baking your friend a birthday cake.
 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=danno%20homeopathy. Danno K, Colas A, Masson JL, Bordet MF. “Homeopathic Treatment of Migraine in Children: Results of a Prospective, Multicenter, Observational Study.” J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Sep 14.